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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

JOAN LYLE ORAL HISTORY

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BIOABSTRACT

M. Joan Whelan Lyle (b. 1920) of Minneapolis, Minnesota, served in the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in 1943-1944.


COLLECTION SUMMARY

2007 oral history interview, copies of photographs, clippings, military records.


BIOGRAPHY

Joan Whelan Lyle was born on 12 March 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from St. Lois Park High School in 1937 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. While there, Lyle took private flying lessons. With other student pilots, she formed the Minneapolis Flying Club and eventually earned her instructor’s rating. In 1942, she graduated from college and worked briefly as a flight instructor at the Minneapolis Airport. She then attended air traffic control training in Chicago and worked in the control tower in Cincinnati while waiting to get into the WASP.

After several unsuccessful attempts to join the WASP, in spring of 1943 Lyle appealed her case to Jacqueline Cochran, founder of the WASP, and was accepted. From September 1943 to March 1944 she attended training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Following graduation she was sent to Dodge City, Kansas, for B-26 training. She was then sent to Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho, to tow targets for gunnery students. Lyle left the WASP when it was disbanded in December 1944.

Lyle returned home to Minneapolis and to flight instructing. She moved to Pembina, North Dakota, to work at a relative's flight school. After the school closed, she moved to Los Angeles so she could fly year round. She worked briefly as an instructor in East Los Angeles, and later at airports in Culver City and Santa Monica. She also worked in aircraft sales for Beechcraft as a private pilot for a Chicago business. In 1953 she married George Lyle, and soon thereafter Lyle stopped flying. The couple has seven children.


CONTENTS AVAILABLE ONLINE:
Item
Portrait of Joan Lyle, 1943
Item # WV0396.6.001
From the Joan Lyle Oral History
Joan Lyle on plane, 1944
Item # WV0396.6.002
From the Joan Lyle Oral History
Joan Lyle in cockpit, 1944
Item # WV0396.6.003
From the Joan Lyle Oral History
Oral history interview with Joan Lyle, 2007
Item # WV0396.5.001
From the Joan Lyle Oral History